Eight states earned full marks for their workers' compensation programs, according to a recent study of OSHA data by Work Loss Data Institute. Alabama was the most improved state in overall ranking, the institute reported, while Indiana made significant progress in minimizing missed work. New Mexico garnered the unfortunate distinction of being the "Biggest Decliner," going from a B+ in 2000, to a D in 2002.

Although Texas made some improvement, going from an F to a D-, it still ranks in the bottom third. The improvement was due to increased performance in prevention and safety measures, which resulted in keeping the incidence rates of cases low compared to the population as a whole. However, when it comes to return-to-work (delayed recovery and median disability durations), Texas remains last.

California, the largest state, received a flunking grade for all three years from 2000 to 2002. Performance was not good on all measures, but is close to the bottom when it comes to getting workers back on the job and preventing outliers, especially for carpal tunnel syndrome, the institute noted. Other Fs were received by Delaware, Hawaii, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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